Luerssen Science Building dedication slated for April 20

April 06, 2016

Penn State Berks will hold a dedication ceremony for the Luerssen Science Building from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 20. The ceremony, featuring brief addresses from college and community leaders, will start promptly at 1 p.m., followed by tours of the facility. This event is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served. 

Originally built in 1972, the Luerssen Building is the oldest academic building at Penn State Berks. Through a complete, top-to-bottom renovation, this building has been transformed into an environment that fully supports the college’s science students and faculty as they pursue excellence.

“By providing expanded, up-to-date facilities for our Science Division, the renovated Luerssen Science Building ensures that our students will have the best learning opportunities we can provide, and our science faculty will be well positioned to create knowledge in their fields and further enhance Penn State Berks’ reputation among its peers,” states Penn State Berks Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk.

The renovation has reconfigured the building’s spaces to create significantly improved teaching and research laboratories:

•  The new layouts of the chemistry, organic chemistry, and microbiology teaching laboratories allow more group interaction so that students learn from each other as well as their professors; redesigned research laboratories better facilitate both faculty and undergraduate research.

•   The newly developed biochemistry and molecular biology teaching laboratory is well equipped for instruction of upper-level courses, exposing students to cutting-edge techniques in DNA, protein, and gene expression analysis.

•  The occupational therapy associate degree program has a newly organized space for students to learn hands-on intervention techniques for people with disabilities; a new sensory integration area allows students to practice interventions for children with developmental disorders.

•   A redesigned and expanded cadaver dissection laboratory provides kinesiology students with increased opportunities for experiential learning; this laboratory has already led to a fruitful partnership in which several Penn State Berks kinesiology majors have and will continue to gain admission to Alvernia University’s doctor of physical therapy program.

•  Dedicated space has been provided for the math faculty to work with students outside the classroom in an individual or group environment to meet a range of learning needs.

In addition, modernized systems have brought the building into the twenty-first century: up-to-date classroom technology, high-efficiency LED lighting, a building-wide HVAC system, fire alarm and sprinkler systems, complete asbestos abatement, and a building automation system with card access for security.

Through this comprehensive renovation, the Luerssen Building has been reborn as the Luerssen Science Building, essentially an entirely new facility designed to enhance student learning and support the full range of the college’s science programs.

The building is named in honor of George V. Luerssen, a Penn State alumnus and an industry and community leader. More than a century ago, Luerssen received his Penn State diploma, and he would go on to exemplify the ideals of hard work, academic and professional success, and engagement with Reading’s industry and community that Penn State Berks still stands for. A native of Reading, he entered Penn State’s School of Engineering in 1912. When he graduated in 1915, he had received the highest grades ever achieved in the school to that point and for several years after. Having worked during college at Carpenter Steel (now Carpenter Technologies), he was hired as an engineer in the company’s heat treating and electrical department, and he rose through the ranks to eventually become vice president.

But Luerssen’s achievements were not limited to his corporate work. He co-wrote a book titled Tool Steel Simplified, which became a standard text in the steel industry for many years. Perhaps he left his mark most strongly on the Greater Reading community, where he was known as an innovative leader and remembered for his great sense of humor, generosity, and kindness.

Luerssen served as a charter member of the first Penn State Berks Center advisory board from 1960 until his death in 1964. In that role, he shared with the Center’s director, Dr. Harold Perkins, the dream of larger facilities to accommodate the expanding campus. While he did not live to see that new campus space, the naming of its first building in his honor in 1972 was a fitting tribute to all that Luerssen achieved himself and helped to make possible for others in his community.

Renovation of the Luerssen Science Building has been a top priority for Penn State Berks and the University, and institutional funds have been directed toward the $15.8 million construction project.

The architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson designed the renovations, and construction was managed by Quandel, Harrisburg. 

For more information about the Luerssen Science Building, contact Dave Delozier, director of development and alumni relations, at 610-396-6056. 

  • professor helping student
    IMAGE: Theo Anderson

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 07, 2016